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Government must do more to foster national cohesion

By Editorial | Mar 2nd 2015 | 3 min read
By Editorial | March 2nd 2015

In January 2008, Kenya experienced an unprecedented wave of violence that threatened to tear the country apart, and would have perhaps succeeded had it not been for the tireless efforts of a panel of eminent African Persons led by Mr Kofi Annan, the former Secretary General of the United Nations.

Following the disputed elections of December 2007, sporadic violence broke out in major towns of the country, especially in the Rift Valley that left more than 1000 people dead and another 600,000 displaced.

The loss in property which went up in fire could not be quantified.

The country, hitherto considered an island of peace in a troubled sea came to a standstill. The African Union could not bear the thought of seeing Kenya disintegrate and its mediation efforts gave birth to the National Accord that saved the country from degenerating into further chaos.

Saturday marked the seventh anniversary of the signing of the National Accord between Mwai Kibaki of the Party of National Unity (PNU) who had been declared winner of the 2007 General Election and Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) who disputed the election results.

The motivation for the accord was the desire to restore normalcy and aid in reconciliation.

Out of the National Accord, the Independent Review Commission, Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission, Commission of Inquiry on Post-Election Violence and the Constitutional Review Commission were created with the ultimate aim of making Kenya a more cohesive society.

As we approach the 2017 elections, it is necessary for us to take stock and establish whether the country is on the right track in achieving the goals of the accord.

On the positive side, the country was able to come up with a new constitution that guaranteed the individual a lot of rights and freedoms.

Devolution, for instance, is a product of the new constitution which, despite a few hiccups here and there, has transformed the way we do things and improved service delivery.

Kenya has a revamped judicial system that operates independently, free from the influence of the Executive and this has greatly improved the delivery of justice.

The speedy determination of cases is also a welcome relief.

The Legislature, which drew up the National Accord in 2008, has however failed the country. Corruption has permeated the august House to a point where Members of Parliament are accused of taking bribes to vote in a pre-determined way on sensitive motions.

Corrupt individuals in society are able to buy their way out of trouble by bribing House committee members.

Motions are no longer passed on the basis of objectivity but rather on party numerical strength, something that could saddle the country with very unpopular legislation.

The Government has done little in uniting Kenyans by failing in the area of equity in appointments.

The Jubilee Alliance Party which forms the Government is redrawing party politics along the infamous ethnic lines.

The country is still balkanised and we cannot escape the fact that even today, we still have Kenyans who are yet to recover from the 2008 violence.

Instead of partnering with members of the fourth estate in development, the Government has resorted to oppressive media laws that deny citizens their right to access information and the freedom of choice. There is so much that is wrong in this country and we cannot pretend to be on the right track. The Opposition and the Government must therefore iron out their ideological differences to preclude future violence and rally the country together.

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